Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ode to My New Vacuum

The German Shepherd-sized dust bunnies were really bad.
For my birthday I received a new vacuum from my dad.
With incredible suction and cyclonic action
The dust bunnies will never again gain traction
Of the now fabulously clean floor I'm a loover
And I owe it all to the Agility of Hoover.
The last line in my poem isn't just referring to the agility of the vacuum that runs itself (the motorized head pulls forward, so vacuuming is lots easier), but also refers to the model of the vacuum.  It's a Hoover Agility with cyclonic action.  
I'm not meaning for this post to sound like a commercial, honestly.  But I do want to say that my new vacuum really does work well.  I can't believe how much dust and hair it picks up. I vacuumed up the house today and the carpet (which looked more like my dog than a rug) now looks like a carpet again.  My only quibble is the dust cup is hard to empty.  But hey, after not having a vacuum for a few weeks since our last one died, I'm not complaining. And I would gladly deal with the dust cup any day over having to buy new bags all of the time.  Well worth the money savings, believe me, when you have a German Shepherd and two kitties that shed bucket-loads year-round.  With a few weeks worth of fur build-up, I was concerned that the vacuum would clog up; it didn't.  Worked like a charm!
Most people probably wouldn't have asked for a vacuum for their birthday, but I did.  And my dad, rather than get me something fun and lighthearted got me what I asked for.  I'm so glad he did, because I really, really wanted one.  What type of person asks for a vacuum for their birthday?  Well, one who needs one like I did, I suspect . 
So, yeah.  Thanks, Dad!!  An awesome birthday present and I'm sooo happy I got it.   :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food Coma Blahs

I promised last week I would go over some sites about selling the script yesterday.  Unfortunately, I've been dealing with after-holiday food coma.  Bleah.  Caaaannn't moooove. 

I will endeavor to tackle that subject next week.  My apologies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Goodies

For someone trying to eat right and get back in shape, the holidays are a huge struggle.  Everywhere I go, I am inundated with yummy food smells, tempted with delicious candies and cookies, and am desperately trying to maintain control over my will.  It doesn't help that I'm making goodies (because in my family I'm world-famous for them) to give out to my extended family for Christmas presents.  I mean, I have to sample the goods I bake for quality control, right?  Actually, I don't.  My kiddos are eager volunteers for QC.  But still, it is hard not to indulge.

People say that it is okay to eat goodies in moderation, but this time of year there is no such thing as moderation!  I'm surrounded by mountains of chocolate!  This year I'm managing to control my portions much more so than in years past, but it is sooo hard.  My diet is pretty flexible, but also very rigid at the same time.  I can eat pretty much whatever I want, as long as I eat the proper proportions of different types of energy sources, i.e. fats/carbs/proteins with each meal.  It has become ingrained for me to mentally calculate what is in different foods so that I can keep to the proper ratios.

So, I can't help but think of all the fat and sugar I'm consuming when I eat a holiday cookie or bit of chocolate and it is depressing.  With such high carb/fat types of foods, it is very difficult to balance with other healthy stuff to get what I need.  I know from personal experience that when I'm discouraged and depressed I eat more, which of course means that eating anything "bad" in the first place means a downward spiral of eating more.  Grr. 

This is, in part, a mental block. I wish I knew how to break the "I feel bad" and the "I should eat something" link, but I haven't figured it out.  Logically, I know the problem, but the logic can't seem to override the emotion.  Yet.  I'm working on it.

My being discouraged by eating the wrong proportions of foods is also a problem of education.  I'm still figuring out how to eat properly according to my books (The Zone books by Dr. Barry Sears) and it is an issue of continual practice and better understanding.  So I'm fighting and trying, but it is frustrating nonetheless.  I suspect by next year I'll have a much better handle on how to eat properly, but that doesn't help me in the meantime.

Despite the temptations from the goodies and whatnot, I've still managed to lose weight this month.  It's going slower, but it's still happening. Total loss since the beginning of October is 22 lbs.  My grand total is 28 lbs. off my heaviest weight!  So I'm pleased I'm still making some progress.  I think next month things will pick back up again as all the holiday parties are behind me and I can focus a little more easily on what I'm doing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More On Screenwriting

Though I suspect we've all had days like this, writing doesn't need to be something we fear.
Last week I wrote about a few excellent books that people interested in writing scripts could read to help them with their craft.  There are many other resources out there that can help people interested becoming better writers, too.  Be sure to check out the Writers Guild of America site--it has all sorts of industry news and information that may be helpful for a career in writing.

If you want to learn more about television writing, you might want to check out Lee Thomson's blog.  In it, you'll find access to different movie pilots, which are invaluable as sources to help one figure out what makes a good television script.  Pilots have to be good, or they don't get picked up by the networks!  Also, is a handy site.  Yes, it does shill workshops and seminars, but there are great message boards and other resources there, too.  I clicked on some of the topics and found links to all sorts of helpful stuff.

If you want to learn more about the craft of writing film scripts, reading many many scripts is also recommended, just as it is recommended to read TV pilots and other television scripts if you want to write for television.  Script Fly has many film scripts available for a charge.  Script Fly also has scene study and analysis, and resources and links to articles on screenwriting.  You can also find free copies of film scripts here, here, here, and here.  (I almost didn't finish writing this blog because my attention was hijacked by reading the bloody beginning of the Conan script on IMSDb.)  I discovered that the simply scripts site also has copies of TV scripts and film treatments, among other things.

This is a useful site with lots of information on the craft of writing scripts.  It talks about all the different elements of what makes a good script:  plot, pacing, dialogue, characters, structure, etc.  Also, Script Magazine and Hollywood Scriptwriter are good resources, too.  Not just for how-to's on good writing, but for the industry, as well.

Writing groups are very helpful, but exceedingly tricky.  I say it's tricky, because it is hard to find a group of writers who are of as good or better caliber than you, who understands the genre/type of film or TV you prefer to write for, who have schedules that mesh, who are dedicated to the group, who will be punctual and turn in work (both their own and their critiques) on time, who have thick skins and won't start crying when you give hard to hear but necessary criticism, and who have tact, yet have no problems letting you have all the bad news.  

I've discovered a number of wonderful blogs and suggestions on how to create the perfect writing group.  while Holly Lisle is aiming more toward novelists, her advice is just as apropos to screenwriters.  LindaJM is talking novels, too, but she has some suggestions for bringing the group online.  At the end of the article there are some more helpful links, too.  Bryan Fields talks about how you can use a writer's group to benefit you.  Again, what goes for novelists here bennies-wise is still very valid for scriptwriters.  At, they have a list of many screenwriting groups across America, and links for workshops and whatnot. Meetup is another great resource for finding other writers. In addition to the benefit of making your writing better, meeting with other screenwriters has the added benefit of networking.  People know people who know people.  And in the entertainment business, sometimes who you know can make a difference with your chance of being heard.

I could go on and on at length about the resources out there on the web.  Poking around on the sites I've given here should be helpful and will likely send you exploring the internet elsewhere, too (as it did for me).  Good luck, and I hope you learn as much as I did!

For my next week's blog, I plan to check out resources describing how to pitch your script and get it accepted.

Friday, December 16, 2011

TDC December Update

Planning for my upcoming trip, working on my doc campaign, training, and prepping for Christmas has kept me pretty busy for the last couple of weeks.  Too busy.  I'm getting some of my goals for December done and I managed to get the living room re-arranged finally (which was sort of leftover from my November goals).  So that's good.

It has occurred to me that nitty gritty weekly updates on what I'm doing, especially since it doesn't change much (except at the beginning of the month when I analyze my goals and re-configure them) might get boring.  For some reason, I think people--me included--think their lives are infinitely more interesting to the world than they probably are.  Which is why you can go to most any twitter or facebook account and see all the nitty gritty details of millions of lives every day, right down to what people ate for dinner.  (Tonight my family and I ate tilapia filet sandwiches and carrot chips in fat-free ranch, just in case you were wondering.  You weren't? Oh.  Right-O.)  Yeah.  Anyway, I've realized that my blog doesn't need to do what my facebook page does already. the interest in keeping you, well, interested, I've decided not to put that out there anymore and bore you to death.  I think I will only post about my thirty day challenges when something particularly inspiring or difficult comes up, and when I'm jazzed about the possibilities. 

Now to figure out what to write about on Fridays...  Maybe that will be the day that I update my walking blog, at least until my trip comes around.  Hmm...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pre-Production: The Script

So I've taken the last few weeks to look at the film industry as a whole and checked out some books and websites that cover filmmaking from pre-production all the way to post.  Today, I'm going to start looking more into the actual pre-production part of filmmaking.

With any film, usually, the first thing you have to have is an idea.  Hollywood insiders can get away with having a neat idea, pitching it to producers and Hollywood execs and manage to get studios to get on board with their idea and then go find a writer to write the script for the idea.  For most folks starting out, that just ain't gonna happen.  You don't have the contacts and you don't have the history, so studios aren't going to trust their millions of dollars to an idea some nobody came up with.  Or, they might recognize a great idea, and they will take that idea and run with it and use team of people they do trust to make that idea happen.  Ideas cannot be copyrighted.  Treatments can be registered with the Writers Guild of America, but pitching an idea to an exec who recognizes the worth but who isn't impressed with you means somebody else is going to make it.

However, if you have what you think is a great idea, and you write a great script, you have a lot better chance of selling it and getting credit for it.  Scripts are copyrighted and registering them with the WGA is just one more step to protect yourself from getting your idea and script made into a movie you're not getting credit or paid for.  (And while this can and does happen, having your script stolen and you not getting credit/paid for your work is not actually a horribly common thing, though it seems to be a fear for many writers.)

I'm starting with scripts in the pre-prodution process here, because to make a movie, you have to have a script.  It is possible to gather funds and do other pre-production things on your list before the script is finished, but it is more difficult because until it is done, you don't know exactly what you need.  The script will determine the cast, the need for a stunt department, what type of makeup and wardrobe are necessary, what locations are necessary, and many other details. 

The one exception I can think of where the script doesn't come first (or at least pretty dang close) is for documentaries.  With documentaries, the filmmaker films much of the footage with some kind of structure or theme in mind, but often, the film that is shot ends up changing or surpassing the filmmaker's expectations and what ends up in the final cut may not be at all what the filmmaker originally envisioned.  The people being filmed may end up revealing new details the filmmaker never expected, for example, which may lead to exploration in other areas that weren't planned.  Then the script will be written around the footage at the end.  So with documentaries, it can be kind of backwards.

But with feature narrative films, usually the script is either first or pretty early on.  Because of that, I wanted to talk about some resources for people interested in writing scripts.

My absolute favorite resource is the Save the Cat! series of three books by Blake Snyder.  They are awesome.  StC breaks down all stories (no matter what the genre is) to 10 basic story archetypes.  And no matter how hard I've tried, I can't seem to find any archetypes the author has missed. He breaks down those archetypes, explains how they work and the "rules" behind what makes them work.  He breaks down the story archetypes into 15 beats, explains a handy process that you can use to help you create/write your screenplay, and even has lots of other useful rules regarding plot and story.  The rules have fun, easy to remember names, too, like Pope in the Pool, Laying Pipe, and others.  Once you read them, you won't forget them because of the fun way he has laid them out.  I took five classes regarding writing scripts at college, and I found I learned more from these books, than those classes combined.

The next book I would recommend that I just finally got around to finish reading would be The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier.  This book has a primer on how to write a screenplay included in it, but what I found more useful in this book were the formatting rules.  Don't know how to format a telephone conversation in your script?  Do you have a scene labeled on the bottom (you know, like they do in TV when the characters go to some new location and the label for the new location pops up in the corner) and you don't know how to show that in the script?  Do you have a dream sequence or a flashback and you're not sure the best way to format it?  This book tackles all these tough questions.

Next week I'll talk more about this topic, as there are many resources and wonderful ways to learn about screenwriting and how to identify what makes a great script.

Friday, December 9, 2011

TDC December's First Eight Days

Let's see.  As you may recall, I had a few different thirty day challenges for the month of December.   My first one, which was to log my food intake on Calorie Count again and the last one, the writing a page a day hasn't happened.  I have been extremely busy and haven't hardly been home for over a week (filming, networking, meeting with my writing groups, shopping, etc.).  When I have been home, I've been walking or blogging, usually.  So I'm bummed about not getting them done.  However, the month isn't over yet, so I have time to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak.

My other two challenges I think I've done very well with.  First of all, the walking.  I have been walking a lot.  My goal was to be able to walk five miles regularly, four to five days a week by the end of the month. Well, I did over four miles one day and over 6 miles another day this week and I'll be walking another five miles today.  So I'm right on track to make or beat that challenge.  Sweet! 

My last challenge was to look up a word a day.  I forgot on a couple days, but I have discovered a few new words on the other days that I had never heard of before.  One is pyknic.  Apparently I am pyknic.  That is, a "fat, rounded build or body structure" according to  I also learned the words burgoo (a type of oatmeal gruel eaten by sailors, or if you're from TN or KY it's a thick soup or stew), tergiversate (to waffle on issues), obcordate (heart shaped, with pointed end attached to stem, like a leaf), and scrutineer ("someone who scrutinizes the conduct of an election poll").  My favorite one so far has a definition synonymous with the verb "kiss":


[os-kyuh-leyt] Show IPA verb, -lat·ed, -lat·ing.
verb (used without object)
1.  to come into close contact or union.
2.  Geometry . (of a curve) to touch another curve or another part of the same curve so as to have the same tangent and curvature at the point of contact.
verb (used with object)
3.  to bring into close contact or union.
4.  Geometry . (of a curve) to touch (another curve or another part of the same curve) in osculation.
5.  to kiss.*
Hah!  Fun stuff! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Phil Anderson's Film Project

Phil (L) and Wild Bill (R).
Tuesday I spent the day with Phil Anderson, John Hart, and Wild Bill Adams filming a spec commercial for Phil's reel.  It was fun because we got to spend the day outdoors at Alpenrose Dairy at their bicycle velodrome (who knew they had a velodrome?).  For those of you who might not be sure what that is, a velodrome is one of those tracks that tilt at crazy angles on the curves and centrifugal force keeps the bikes from crashing to the pavement as the riders go around them.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera this time around, so I'm posting a pic from Craig Werner's Delayed Justice shoot that we all worked on back in July 2011 so you can see who I'm gabbing about.

I sure wish I had brought my camera, though.  Phil had a couple of internationally known racing cyclists there.  Kirk Whiteman apparently he has been racing internationally for over 25 years.  For the last 11 years he has been a trainer as well and now he has his own team.  One of the women he coaches, Nissy Cobb, was there and he said she is one of the fastest female cyclists in America right now.  I looked up Kirk on the web and found a couple of interesting links.  This guy is good!  He's 46 years old and still beating the hell out of the competition.  First place in the sprints for the USA Cycling Masters Track Nationals this year!  Go Kirk!  I feel honored to have gotten to meet he and Nissy both.

Anyhow, both were riding their super uber expensive bicycles around the velodrome and it was a treat to watch, let alone film.   Their idea of a slow, take-it-easy kind of speed is 18-20 mph.  Hah!  Ten mph is a fast speed for me!  But I shouldn't be surprised.  Top bicycle racers can do 40+ mph.  They were trying to take it a little slow because the velodrome was a bit slippery due to moisture and leaves drifting about. 

We filmed them for much of the afternoon and I got the icicle butt syndrome.  That is, when I am outside in the cold for very long, my butt and hips turn into an icicle.  Even with long johns on (and boy, am I glad I wore them today or else it would have been worse)!  Which is no wonder, because it never got above 36 degrees Fahrenheit today.  I have been home for about two hours now and my heinie is still not quite thawed out.  But the rest of me was pretty toasty while we were out there; I even loaned my gloves to someone else whose hands were cold.

I felt sorry for Kirk and Nissy, though.  They were out in the same weather we were, but in much thinner bicycling gear.  Sure, they were doing laps occasionally trying to keep warm, but there were stretches where we were having them stay in one place to get this or that shot or adjusting the cameras on their bikes or whatnot and I sure hope they weren't freezing as much as my butt was!

Instead of being a P.A., which sounds all fancy, I should have the official title of Schlepper. 'Cuz that's what I was really doing.  Schlepping things, holding reflectors and what not.  Phil was calling me Holly the Kung Fu Grip for a while, since I was hauling around the sandbag and affixing it to the tripod, but I still say I was really just schlepping.  All in all, it was a cold, but fun day meeting new folks, hanging out with filmmaker friends and schlepping film equipment.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Film Production Forms

This last weekend I worked on filming my pitch video for the Kickstarter campaign I'm going to be putting up soon.  As I scrabbled about making lists and checking them twice (and no, not because it's close to Christmas, but because I would forget my head if it wasn't attached to my body--I'm a big list person; lists keep me functional), I reflected on the volumes of paperwork involved in filmmaking.  This was just a simple little thing I was working on, yet I had sent I don't know how many emails, called several people, made a bunch of lists, had to write and re-write my script, create personal release forms, go over shot lists and other things.  It's a lot of work keeping things organized!

I'm thinking there has to be a better way.  And there is.  There is actually software that can help with the coordination of the logistics of production.  Celtx, the scriptwriting software I prefer to use (like it better than Final Draft, actually) can help with some of this.  In the Reel to Deal book I reviewed earlier, there were all sorts of tools listed that can help out, including books and software.

One of the books recommended was The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner.  It's in its fourth edition, and I just so happen to own a copy.  Now, I created my own personal release forms by changing around somebody else's to suit my own needs.  But this book has that and tons more.  This book has pretty much any form for filmmaking recordkeeping and organization that you could ever dream of. There is even a walkie-talkie sign out sheet!  I mean, who would think of that?  I didn't.  I don't know why I didn't check this book out more BEFORE I started preparation for filming.  It probably would have been very helpful.  Pages 26-28 list all the different kinds of forms you can find in the book for blank forms and files for features/movies/television/cable/internet. The chapter talks about the method behind the organization of the different files and forms. 

I know for my documentary, which will be a long, on-going project over the next couple of years, I will likely be using a number of forms in this book.  The handbook is geared toward those who want to make a feature film, but much of it is still helpful to people making documentaries or television too.

If you want to make a film and you don't know where to start, I highly recommend you check out this book! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Thirty Day Challenge Recap and December's Challenges

Yesterday I reported on my walking blog that I walked three miles.  The day before, I walked 3.25 miles.  As it turned out, after I wrote that blog, I ended up walking another couple of miles plus because of a meeting I had to go to.  So all told yesterday I walked more than five miles.  Whoa!

Today is the first day I've walked up after a walk and have felt my muscles in my legs being moderately sore and stiff.  Prior to now, my muscles were never sore, it was always my joints because I had so much weight on them, that they were screaming in protest at the exercise.  Well, my hips ankles and knees are fine.  So, I'm pretty stoked.  This is good!

It also means that I blew my 30 day walking goal for November out of the water.  Yay me!  I was only planning on being able to walk two miles a day by the end of November and I beat that by a long ways.  In fact, tomorrow I'm planning on trying myself out on a five mile urban hike around Oaks Park to see how I do at that distance.  Whee!

My other two challenges I didn't do as well.  I had vowed to keep on logging my food intake into calorie count for the month, but during that 10 or 11 days that I was sick over Thanksgiving, and the following days after that I didn't do it at all.  I also didn't manage to make my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words, either.  But at least I'm almost 8000 words higher than I was before!

So now I'm looking at December and trying to figure out what my goals will be for his month.  Hmm.

I think I'll go with the following:

1) I'll get back on track with logging my food intake.
2) I'm going to be able to walk 5 miles regularly, four to five days a week by the end of the month.
3) I want to learn one new word a day from the dictionary and use it properly in a sentence.  That could be fun!
4) I will write one page a day in my novel or in one of my scripts.  As long as I keep writing daily, hopefully it will help me get in that habit, even if it's just a little bit.  I'm terrible at sitting my butt down and doing it!  

 What are your 30 day challenges for December?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feeling Better and Walking Again and Willow's Chess Club

I was sick for about 10 days and today I finally felt better enough to go for a walk.  It was nice.  I actually walked the farthest I've gone since I started my walking training.  I walked 3.25 miles today!  Yes!  My hip is a bit sore and my left ankle a little, too.  But beyond that, I feel pretty good.  It's amazing to me how quickly my walking endurance is improving.  Even with being sick as along as I was.  I think I may have been able to go farther even, but I really needed to get home because I had to go pick up my daughter from her chess club.

Warming up before the tournament.  She was so excited!
Speaking of chess club, my daughter loves being in chess club.  She went to her first practice tournament on the 19th.  She has another tournament coming up on the 10th, which is the same day we are supposed to go to my aunt's house for a Christmas party. But it should be fine.  The tournament is early in the morning and my aunt's party isn't until later in the afternoon.

Got her game face on.
At Willow's first tournament, she got to play against 7 different girls.  One girl she played before the tournament began, just as a warmup.  That little girl was in the 3rd grade (Willow is in 4th), and she kicked Willow's butt.  Willow is an impulsive player, no strategy at all.  I had never seen her play before, so it was interesting to see what she had learned so far and how she used that knowledge.  This is her first year in Chess Club.  Since she is a beginning player, it is obvious right now they are really more just teaching the basics of piece movement and not so much into the strategy part. All in due time, right?

Willow explaining some rules to her first opponent.
After the practice tournament officially began, Willow got to play six different girls.  The tourney was only for girls, actually.  It was a practice tournament to let them see just what happens at a tournament and prepare her for the next one.  The next one will be co-ed.  Willow won her first game, which I think gave her a nice boost of confidence.  Then she played to a draw, then lost a game, and then played to three more draws.  Sometimes she was on the attack, sometimes she was on the defensive.

Thinking hard!
Willow's coach was unable to come due to some scheduling conflict and he had arranged for another teacher to sub as coach.  That teacher never showed, which was highly irritating.  We still managed to figure things out without him, though.  It was very difficult for me, as a parent, to step back and watch the kids play without interjecting my thoughts.  I didn't think it would be appropriate for a parent to be giving pointers during the game.  After all, coaches are only called over when a kid has a question.  Since Willow had no coach, I tried to call over other coaches if the girls had a question rather than answer the questions myself.

But it was soooo hard for me to keep my mouth shut. The first girl Willow played in the tournament Willow had in check several times, and she never pointed it out.  And the girl never noticed.  At one point, Willow could have moved one piece and had the girl in checkmate, but she didn't seem to notice.  Instead, she moved a different piece and destroyed her set-up.  She eventually won, but only after taking every piece the poor girl had on the board and chasing her around a bit.

Ditto with the other games.  It wasn't just Willow who was making weird choices and not noticing openings.  These are all just beginning chess players and so of course they aren't going to see a lot of stuff.  But it got so hard to keep quiet that I eventually went and sat down on one of the couches, dug out a book and read, because I just couldn't stand it.  Apparently, I have a tendency to be like one of those loud, bossy soccer moms.  Who'd a thunk?  I had to bench myself.

It will be interesting to see what her next tournament will be like, since it will be boys and girls playing.  Willow is very excited and can't wait for the next one.  She goes to practice twice a week and she is learning loads and having fun.  Color me a proud mama.  :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crowd Funding

Being sick sucks.  I have had nooo energy this last week.  I didn't want to do anything that resembled work, so I stayed in bed a lot and read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  So productive!

I did, however, do some web surfing about documentary production, since I'm planning on producing a documentary next year.  There's a lot out there!  My biggest issue with my documentary is funding it.  I suspect that is an issue for a lot of filmmakers.  So I looked into crowdfunding and other sources of funding.  A few helpful links:

The above are all crowdfunding sites.  Crowdfunding is where a project is funded by a large number of people.  They aren't investors and do not own the rights to the project they are helping to fund.  Basically, rewards are offered of some kind by the project owners to entice people to donate money, like free copies of the finished film, inclusion in the credits, etc. The above sites allow people who have projects to post them and try to get their projects funded.

I recently got my project pitch accepted by Kickstarter, but now I have to finish making that pitch.  I had no idea what all to include in it, since I've never done one before.  So I've been doing some research on that.  These links have been helpful:

One cool thing I noticed on the Kickstarter site is that the city of Portland is trying to encourage the Portlanders who use Kickstarter to fund their projects.  According to the office of the mayor, Sam Adams:

"Portland is a place where innovators, artists and entrepreneurs thrive in a creative culture fueled by a DIY ethic and a collaborative conscience. In other words, it's a perfect match for Kickstarter. Mayor Sam Adams is pleased to highlight a rotating selection of Portland-based projects united by a theme. All of the projects currently showcased play with the idea of place."

Apparently the theme changes every so often, though I don't know how often.  I wonder if other cities do something similar?  I haven't surfed enough through Kickstarter yet to find out.  I spent way too many hours checking out the different projects, what they were, what they were asking for, what they were offering, and so on, to try to get a better idea of how my project would fit in. I didn't look at anything region specific, but more category specific.

I have a couple of people who have offered to help me make a pitch video, so I plan to get that done soon.  Just as soon as I am feeling human again.

Damn cold.

If you have any links on how to make crowd funding work for you or you know of other sites, please, by all means, add them in the comments section!

Friday, November 25, 2011

TDC's Thanksgiving Edition

My thirty day challenges got put on hold for several days this week.  I came down with a cold out of the blue on Saturday, which made me miss my Aunt and Uncle's anniversary party, which I had been looking forward to.  Stupid cold hit me pretty hard and I've been suffering with it ever since.  No energy, sore throat, coughing, stuffy nose--you know the drill.  Bleah.

I've felt too shitty to do any walking, too shitty to do much writing, too shitty to do much of anything, actually, but I have at least managed to get my blogs done.  Wednesday, I spent much of the afternoon at my dad's house making pies and prepping for Thanksgiving. 

Who is that masked baker?
The whole wheat boules I made.  Too pretty to eat!
In all honesty, though, I wasn't the only person to cook on Wednesday.  Actually, for the first time that I can recall in a very long time, my son actually was taking an interest in all things related to baking.  In this case, specifically relating to making the pies.  Under my supervision, he made the pumpkin pies, rolled out the crust for the peach pie, made the crust for the pecan pie, and he mixed up the peaches/sugar/cinnamon/flour mix for the filling.  He also made the crumb topping, as well.  It was kinda fun getting to show him how to bake stuff.  I even showed off a little and demonstrated how to crack eggs one handed, with one egg in each hand.  But for one of the eggs I got a piece of shell in the bowl.  D'oh!  Teaches me for showing off.  He just laughed with me.   It was nice to do the bonding thing in the kitchen with him.

But several hours, lunch, four pies, boiling eggs so I can make deviled eggs the next day, a double batch of bread, pumpkin pancakes for dinner and lots and lots of dishes later and I was exhausted.  When I got home, I drank some Nyquil, flopped on my bed and was instantly asleep.

Then I woke up a few hours after that and couldn't get back to sleep.  Which was great, because I had to get up early, pop the ham in the oven, form the bread loaves and bake them, make the veggie dishes, make the deviled eggs, the stuffing, and gravy.  Micah made the mooshed potatoes and the green bean casserole, so at least I didn't have to do that.

Before I could do anything, I had to sit on Dad's couch for a while with a cup of java in hand. I never drink coffee.  I think the Nyquil I took messed me up.  I was tired loopy.  So I got a slow start that morning, and as a result, we didn't get to eat dinner until about 6pm. 

Micah made the green beans, and while he was working on them, I peeled potatoes and popped them in to boil for him.  Once they were nice and soft, he smooshed them and made some lovely mashed potatoes.  

She's wearing her new glasses!
Willow helped me make mix up the deviled eggs.  She loves deviled eggs! She was worried, because I showed her how I put horseradish in, and she was afraid it would be spicy.  I assured her it wouldn't.  She trusted me, and after they were all done and taste tested, she was all smiles!  (She also thought my little trick with using a plastic sandwich bag as a pastry bag as a no muss no fuss easy cleanup system for plopping yolk goop in each egg half was pretty smart.  Isn't it great how little kids are impressed by the things we know?  I'm going to miss it when she gets to the age where she thinks she knows everything.)

Dinner was excellent!  The ham, the squished potatoes and the pecan pie were my favorite parts of the meal.

One of our family friends, Marrla, and her mother and her friend came over for dinner, too, so we got to visit with them and swap our fun stories from youth.  Tales of daredevil stupidity, playing with explosives, getting in trouble, and other fun stuff of the "thank God I didn't die from that" variety.  We talked politics, we talked jobs and generally had a good time socializing.

Confessions of a Nyquil zombie
But after all of that, I'm pooped!  Of all the weeks of the year, why does it have to be the week of Thanksgiving that I get sick?  The week that I am busiest trying to cook for family and guests?

Oh well. I managed.

I was thankful for the company of my family and friends, even if I was sick and crabby.

I'm thankful for a meal my whole family got together to work on--even my kids.  Hubby, me, David, Willow--we all played a part in the making of dinner and dessert.  That was freakin' awesome and I think the first time that has ever happened.  It was lovely.

I was thankful for having plenty of food on the table, even if we couldn't afford a turkey.

I was thankful that I didn't have to do the cleanup!  Marrla and her mom whisked into the kitchen and my dad followed after to do the cleanup.  That was nice, too.

I'm thankful that I'm going to be indoors all day today so that I get to avoid the crazy Black Friday shoppers (shopping on Black Friday is a phenomenon I will never do nor ever care to understand).

And I'll be especially thankful when this damn cold goes away so I can get the energy to go back to work on my walking and my other TDC* stuff I need to get done!  :)

*TDC=Thirty Day Challenges.  Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Perpetuating the Santa Myth

Willow enjoying Christmas 2010.  Note the absence of ornaments on the bottom of the tree.  Also note the glowing eyes behind the blue Lysol box (yeah, we re-use boxes in our house).  Guess who's responsible for the missing ornaments?
I'm a liar.  In fact, probably 99% of the people in this country who celebrate Christmas are liars.  You know what I'm talking about.  Lying to children.  How despicable!  How hypocritical!

We tell our children that lying is bad.  We teach them that honesty is always the best policy.  And then we turn around and participate in the biggest conspiracy that children will ever know.  We have concocted this huge myth concerning Santa--where he lives, what he does, why he does it, how he does it, who helps him--and then we lie to our children in order for them to experience that wonderful, wonderful magic of Christmas.

But....belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas is magic.  I think that by lying to our children and enabling them to experience the magic, that we ourselves experience it, too.  It's why I desperately want to have my youngest daughter believe for as long as I can.  This magic?  It is the magic of innocence.  I don't want my daughter to lose that.  When she no longer believes in magic, that will be the moment she has lost her innocence.  I enjoy her innocence.  I savor it.  I will probably cry when she's lost it.  As long as she believes in Santa, she will believe anything and everything can be possible.  Imagination can still be real.

Willow will be ten years old on Christmas Day.  My son believed in Santa until he was twelve.  I'm not sure if Willow will last until she's twelve, but I sure hope so.  David is very sweet and not telling Willow that Santa isn't real.  In fact, I think he enjoys playing along, too.  He gets to be the grown up while she's still the little kid.  Great.  I've turned my son into a co-conspirator and a liar. 

A few days ago, my daughter and I had an incredible conversation.  It made me feel both happy and guilty at the same time.  Guilty because I was perpetuating the lie and happy because my daughter was still innocent enough to believe it.

The conversation went something like this:

Willow:  "The kids at school told me that Santa doesn't exist. But I told them he does."
Me:  "Really?"
Willow:  "Yeah.  They tried to tell me that he doesn't exist and it's just their parents' writing 'From Santa' on the gifts, but I know that's not true.  Santa writes in cursive.  You don't write in cursive.  I told them that my mom writes in block letters, not cursive."
Me:  "True.  And you're Dad's handwriting is atrocious.  You would know if he was writing on the tags."
Willow:  "Exactly!"

Santa's handwriting is a no-frills cursive.  Kinda masculine--not surprising, since my block lettering is rather masculine.  In fact, my writing looks somewhat like my dad's when I write in all caps.  Now the Tooth Fairy's writing is much more difficult to concoct.  Her writing is very frilly with lots of loop de loops and swoops and curls.  The Tooth Fairy has written to Willow before because of a letter that Willow wrote to her.  Oh, and because Willow's room was so messy that the Tooth Fairy couldn't find the dang tooth.

Willow is convinced the Tooth Fairy is real, too.

I'm going to hell.  I just know it.  But I don't care.  I'm not willing to let go of that magic until Willow pries it from my fingers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

DV Filmmaking--The Internet Is God

This last week I read DV Filmmaking From Start to Finish by Ian David Aronson.

Up to this point, all of the books I've been reading have been decidedly from making movies with film perspective.  I wanted to read more about the digital aspect of filmmaking.

This book goes into that, most definitely.  It talks all about all sorts of aspects of production and post production, though it really just glosses over pre and post-post.  By post-post production, I mean what you do with the film once it is made.  How do you sell it?  The author doesn't give this subject much coverage and mostly mentions self-distribution and doesn't talk about internet distribution very much at all, but rather more about going to festivals and pestering theater owners into showing your work and bringing copies of your film with you.

But I didn't mind that so much.  I've just read three or four books that go into distribution fairly thoroughly, even if they were more overall primers than about the specifics.  I have an idea, at least, how distribution works. 

I only bring up that he glosses over pre and post because the subtitle of the book is From Start to Finish.  And you aren't really getting that.  In addition to that, there is one more caveat.  This book was published in 2006.  In the world of digital, that's forever ago.  So much has changed since then that I'm not sure how accurate the directions he gives for the Final Cut Pro, After Effects and Photoshop programs really are.  Newer versions have come out of those programs already.

That all said, this is the first book I've found so far that actually gives directions on what to do in the actual editing programs for compositing, rendering your work, making stuff in Photoshop, animating still photos, creating the title sequences and adding them to your work (the other books recommended farming that work out to companies specializing in titles and credits), color correcting, layering and replacing audio, refining sound, adding music, making a release print, creating a broadcast master, striking a film print, outputting audio, and mastering a DVD.

His directions in each of these areas are good, though they left me wanting to go see if I could find a Final Cut Pro primer on the net, as well as primers for the other programs to see if his directions even work anymore.

A quick search of the web and I found these:

FCPX Master


Final Cut King

Each of the above offer free training videos, though some have a time limit before you have to pay for lessons.  

This reminds me of a very valuable lesson I received from a schoolmate of mine.  He volunteered to be one of the editors for Portland State University's TV station and I asked if I could come in and help so that I might learn, since I didn't know what I was doing at all.  He said that would be fine.  The school uses Final Cut Pro.  Much to my surprise, his knowledge base wasn't much bigger than mine.  In fact, he was learning as he went along.  The school had a two monitor system.  On one monitor he would be doing the editing, and every time something new that he wanted to do came up, like put in subtitles, he used the other monitor to go on the internet and look up free tutorials on Youtube and where ever else he might find them.  Then he adapted the information gleaned for his own use.  I thought he was fucking brilliant, because for whatever reason, that idea had never once popped into my teeny tiny mind.

The internet is God.  If you want to learn something about filmmaking (or anything else, for that matter), somewhere on it you will find the answer.  I think when it comes to digital filmmaking, the answers gleaned from the internet are probably going to be more in-depth and also more up to date than anything I can find in a book.  I suggest if you want to learn editing or sound design or any of that post-production stuff, you head to the internet to do your research first--that is, if you don't have a friend who knows this stuff that you can pester first.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Walking*: A Way to Exercise My Brain?

This is NOT what I mean when I say exercise your brain.

*Thirty Day Challenge-be able to walk two miles a day or more four to five days a week by the end of the month.

I'm not one of those walkers who puts on the mp3 player and listens to music or an audiobook while I'm out. Nope.  They're nice to have, but I actually prefer to hear the sounds around me.  I'm less likely to get run over by that car if I can hear it coming.  But other than listening to what's around me, I veg out when I'm walking.  My mind wanders all over the place.  Naturally.  I'm out in the elements, immersed in my surroundings and I've got nothing better to do than let my brain take a vacation.

Those mini brain vacations loosen up my mind and free my spirit.  I'm in a better mood when I walk (even in the rain) and so problems don't seem so insurmountable.  That's a good thing and probably one of the reasons why my walks are so productive.  The weird thing is that it's not like I'm actively thinking about problems, either.  I think problems I have simmer on the back burner of my subconscious while I'm walking.  And as a result.... answers pop into my head.  I can't tell you how I come to my conclusions.  They just are there.   I'll be walking and suddenly the solution to something that's been bothering me will just zing into my consciousness.  "See!  Here's the answer you've been looking for!" 

Walking is good for my creative juices, too.  Poems will come to me when I walk.  Story ideas.  Plot.  Scenes.  Recipes.  All kinds of yummy stuff.

Walking does that for me. Sometimes sleeping, too.  You know the old saying, "Sleep on it."  Yeah.  Walking is like that.  I walk on it.  Do you know how awesome that can be?  

My fat fluffy furball, Dante.
Speaking of exercise, I've been taking my dog with me when I walk. I hate doing it, because every time a dog rushes at a fence and yaps at him, he's got to bark back.  He gets all excited and he's monstrously heavy.  Dante weighs a good 110-120 pounds, so he's hard to handle when he gets like that.  But, he's a big dog and he needs his exercise.  And so do I.  So I take him anyway.

Yesterday there must have been some construction going on near Nadaka Park, where we were walking, because he was freaking out and pulling my arm off trying to get away from the noise.  The loud whacking/banging noise of the construction sounded like gunshots.  Dante is very scared of gunshot and firework noises.  Over and over and over and over every few seconds with regularity the noise just kept banging the entire time we were walking.  I finally gave up trying to wrangle my scaredy cat dog, took him back to "safety" and resumed my walk without him.  My back, shoulders and arms are still sore from trying to deal with him.  At least he didn't try to climb me like a scared toddler does with his mommy.  He's done that before.  Having a dog that's taller than you when he's on his hind legs trying to climb onto your shoulders because he's scared is not a fun prospect.

Conclusion:  I think my sweet fuzzbucket needs more obedience training.  He knows basic commands, but they tend to go in one ear and out the other when he is either excited or scared.

The exercise is doing me some good, but my dog looks the same.  I wonder how long it will be before he turns into the lean poop machine he was when we first got him. Now he's fat from not getting enough exercise.  It's pretty sad when we get home from our walk and flops on the floor in exhaustion and I feel pretty good still.  So...I aim to fix that!

So far, since the beginning of October I've lost 19 pounds.  That means I've lost almost 26 pounds off my heaviest point a few months ago.  Yes!

I've walked five times this week.  Three of those walks were over two miles, so at this rate, I should be surpassing my goal for the TDC by the end of the month.  Another resounding yes!

So far, so good...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Don't Go Outside Script Progress

The second draft of my vampire horror script is finished.  I sent it off to my writing group, the Laurels, to rip apart.  None of them are screenwriters, but at least one of them has experience in theater, so that helps.  But I figure a novel writer should be able to comment on a script just as easily as a filmmaker.  Both scriptwriters and novelists have to worry about plot, pacing, structure, good dialog, strong characters, correct grammar and so on.  I also gave them three pages worth of questions I had about the script in case they weren't sure what to comment on.  In retrospect, I probably gave them too many questions!  They ended up opting to break the script critiquing into two sessions, so I didn't get all of the dirt when we met Sunday.

But despite not getting it all, the group has given me back their comments and, as per usual, I'm floored at how much everyone has to say.  I've never had a problem with this group being tight-lipped with my other projects, and things weren't different for this one, either.  So now to go digest all of their feedback:  "Is this a parody?"  "Not creepy."  "Predictable so far."  "Cut out the beginning and focus on what you start in the middle."   And, while it is easy to be defensive of something I've worked sooo hard on, I know they are right.  Dang it.

Now I need to fix the problems. I would be deluding myself if I thought after only two drafts my script would be polished and wonderful.  HA!  Writing needs lots of reworking before it becomes great.  And anything less than great won't sell. 

So, I'll let it sit in a drawer for a while so it can percolate in my brain.  Especially since I won't get the rest of the feedback until next month.  Last time I got feedback, which was at the table reading toward the end of September, I let it sit for about a month before I really started working on it again.  I find I need that time for the story and comments to sink into my subconscious.  I dream about it or think of it while I'm walking and suddenly solutions present themselves.  If I try to stare at the screen and write just after my script has been critiqued, I just end up staring at the screen, not knowing where to start.

I'll probably end up starting the re-write process just in time for the new year.

When you are in the re-write phase of a project, what do you do?  Do you plow through it?  Or do you table it and get back to it later, like I do? What helps you with re-writes?  When do you finally consider something done?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hollywood 101

Last week I read Hollywood 101: The Film Industry.  Underneath the subtitle it reads, "How to Succeed in Hollywood Without Connections."  I was thinking it would be aimed at independent filmmakers and I quickly discovered I was wrong.

It was actually a book for people who want to have a career in Hollywood.  You know, some kind of career that gets your name up in the credits section of each film.

I almost put it away, since that wasn't what I was interested in learning about, but in the end I didn't.  I kept reading, because the writer, Frederick Levy, had just enough gossip and interesting anecdotes interspersed to make the read fun.  And, actually, I found I did learn a thing or three about the movie business, which I didn't expect to do.

Now, the last two books I've reviewed have gone over the different jobs in the movie industry and had a basic overview of who did what.  Dov S-S Simens gave me the feeling that as a producer in Hollywood, you needed to know who these different people were, you hired them and let them do their thing.  Goodell was writing from the indie filmmaker's perspective, and often indie folks wear a lot of hats, so he went into a little more detail as to what each one does.  But this book by Levy scattered some history here and there about the different roles in Hollywood, and talked about how they work together and lots and lots of nitty gritty detail about each job--not so much like the editor turns the knob here and clicks the mouse here, but more what kinds of skill sets a job needs.  And what kind of personality each job needs.  And what kinds of emergencies each job handles, and so on.  It was pretty interesting, actually.  For the first time, I actually really saw what each of those job titles in the scrolling title credits do.

For example, have you ever seen the movie credits and thought what the heck is a gaffer?1 What is a grip?2  What the heck is a best boy?3  And why the sexist name?  What if the best boy is a woman?  I already had a basic idea of what a gaffer or grip was from my limited experience on sets.  But I had no idea what all they were really supposed to do, since the no/low-budget indie productions I've been involved with are nothing at all like what they do in Hollywood.  I'm reading all of this stuff thinking, "Ohhhh."  And I'm also realizing why so many indie filmmakers make their films so....independently.  From everything described and all the union rules and guild rules and everything else that studio productions deal with on a daily basis, my head was swimming. 

I remember once watching an interview with Jackie Chan.  He was talking about how filmmaking here in America is frustrating because all of the work is so strictly segregated into different jobs.  He said that working on films in Hong Kong is very different because everybody pitches in.  If the set needs sweeping, whoever isn't busy at the moment does it.  But here in America, if the set needs sweeping, we have to go find that one person whose job it is to sweep it and if they are gone for whatever reason, the production slows down.

After reading the descriptions and how rigid the rules are for Union and Guild positions (and practically everything is in a guild or union), I can understand why he was frustrated.  In the productions I've been involved with, we were behaving more like the filmmakers in Hong Kong that Chan spoke about.  Everybody chipped in and whoever wasn't doing something at the moment would do whatever new task that needed doing.

I'm not badmouthing the unions and guilds though.  They are there for a purpose, like vigorously defending their members' safety and making sure they get meal breaks and all sorts of other things.  And who knows?  Maybe some day I'll be in a guild.

I've discovered some other great websites out there this week.  Raindance has a free e-zine and has tons of tips on filmmaking, the filmmaking business and all sorts of stuff.    I found one page where the author lists a bunch of free software that can compare (or almost compare) to the professional stuff that is used in the industry.  And not just stuff for editing or sound but other stuff, too.  That was sweet!

1  A gaffer is also known as the chief lighting technician.  According to Levy, back in the olden days in Hollywood, they might have been called chief electricians, but that doesn't really describe what they do. They aren't electricians.  They make sure the lighting is set up the way the director of photography wants it.  Though he never explains where the word "gaffer" comes from.

According to Levy, "Like gaffer, the name grip also comes from early Hollywood.  The workers on a set used to carry their tools in a sturdy bag, similar to what a doctor would use, called a grip bag.  Although such bags are no longer used, the name stuck, and the workers became known as grips."  Basically grips set up the stuff that is used to make the film run--special support equipment, dollies, cranes, scaffolding, etc.  They rig all the electric stuff, they tie things down, set up sandbags, and stuff like that.  The key grip is the head of the grip department, like the gaffer is the head of the lighting department.

3  A best boy is someone in charge of either the electrical (lighting) or grip department's crew and is the gaffer's or key grip's assistant.  The best boy electric is sometimes called a second electric (I'm guessing when maybe the best boy is female!)  Though Levy doesn't say if there are any other non-gender specific names for best boy grip.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brave, Angry Young Woman

There are multiple copies of this video on youtube, and the earliest I can find was from back in 2008.  So her message was delivered sometime before then.  Yet I think people in positions of power are listening even less.
She calls herself a child in this video titled "The Girl Who Silenced the World for Five Minutes", but she is more adult than many of the politicians we have.  She is thinking far ahead into her future and into the futures of any children she may have and their children.

Our politicians and government should be doing the same, but they don't.  They tend to think in the here and now.   Because the people who vote want things in the here and now. Not 20 years from now.  We people are a short-sighted bunch, as a whole, I think.  And politicians try to give us what we want (or what they think we want).

So while her speech was addressed to the United Nations, I think everybody really needs to pay attention.  Not just the politicians.  We all need to start thinking about our future.  What can we ALL do?


Friday, November 11, 2011

November Thirty Day Challenge Update

√Čl'e keeps my toes warm while I write.  Why, no, that isn't a muu muu I'm wearing... 
I'm behind on my writing word count for NaNoWriMo.  Big suprise.  But at least I got the second draft to my horror script finished and ready for comment this coming weekend.  I'm meeting with my Laurel writing group, who have graciously agreed to tackle the beast and wrestle it into submission for me.

Of course, my script isn't the project I'm supposed to be working on for NaNo, but it seems like that's the way it is for me.  When I'm supposed to be working on one project, I suddenly get inspired on some other project and come up with all sorts of brilliant solutions for some problem or other (both real and imaginary) I was having for the project I wasn't planning on working on.  It's a sort of avoidance, I suppose, and another way to procrastinate.  But I'm not too terribly upset about it, because hey--I finally got that #%*&! 2nd draft finished and it was overdue, anyway. 

I should probably force myself to work on some other project that I didn't originally plan.  Then I would probably come up with all sorts of wonderful material for the project I'm supposed to be working on.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

It doesn't help that I keep wanting to sneak onto the internet to do more research for my walking trip.  I have been absolutely shocked  by the number of stories I've found of other people who have walked across America.  There weren't this many people back when I tried in 2009!  Or at least, I didn't find them then.  There are a bunch of new folks who have gone just last year and this year, and I've tried to contact all of them.  I'm also trying to contact some of the folks that I didn't know about before.  I'm hoping to get some more special insight and advice for my documentary.  Yeah, I still wanna do one.  I'm a masochist, what can I say?

As for my other goals for the month, I'm doing okay.  I'm losing weight, and I'm happy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Walking Across America, Part Deux?

The beach in Florence, OR where I started my 1st attempt to walk America.
I recently posted about Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Nonconformity book and linked to his website.  As I perused his site recently, I came across the story of NateDamm.  Nate walked across America.  Originally from Maine, he walked all the way across the country to San Francisco and into the Pacific Ocean.

Back in 2009 I tried to walk across America unsuccessfully.  I left the beach in Florence, Oregon, got as far as Santiam Pass, and had to quit for a while due to various problems.  Then I resumed on my bicycle and rode my bike all the way to Boise, Idaho.  The trip was inspiring to me, because it showed me what I’m capable of when I set my mind to it.  I had no idea I could do the things that I did!  But the trip was also a disappointment, because I didn’t get to reach my goal.

Nate Damm’s story inspired me.  I found his email address and wrote to him.  I was so excited when he wrote back to me!  He took the time to answer some of the questions I had about budgeting, what to bring, how to stay safe, etc.  He also told me the biggest reason he did his walk is that the idea for it just wouldn't leave him alone.
I can totally understand that.  That "you need to walk across America" itch is still there.  It still needs to be scratched.  It won’t go away until I actually do it.

But I have more complications at the moment than I know what to do with.  What do I do with my family?  I can’t bring them, like I did last time.  Micah is tethered to the dialysis chair.   And I don’t want to take my daughter out of school again.

So I think that it would just have to be me.  If I went by myself, the trip would certainly be cheaper and I wouldn’t have to worry about the needs of anybody other than myself.  That’s a plus.  And two less people means two less people to budget for.  Nate Damm did his trip on a relatively small budget.

I don’t have even the small budget Nate told me about, but before I go, I could fundraise for it.  And I could work on training for the trip, just like I did with the last one.  If I set my sights on taking off in April next year, that would give me five months to get physically ready enough.  I think that shouldn’t be a problem.  The money is what will be trickier.

Everybody always seems to think that people who do crazy things like walking across America need a hook.  A reason.  Normal people don’t do nutty shit like that.  So walking for money for dialysis awareness, walking for cancer research, walking for… you fill in the blank.  Those are acceptable reasons for most people.  I tried to do that the first time around, because it seemed to make the trip more…legit.  More okay somehow.

Walking just for the sake of walking?  Insane.  Not okay.  But Nate did it for himself.  And ultimately, that is why I want to do it. 

I guess I’m crazy.  I like that about me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Learning About Independent Feature Film Production

Last week I reviewed the book From Reel To Deal, by Dov S-S Simens.  That book was an incredible source of information with tons of suggestions for reading, plus software, websites, associations, unions, guilds, organizations, business contact info and so on.  I have compiled a list of these resources from the various books I've read so far, so if you are interested in seeing it, contact me and I can email it to you. 

One of the books Simens recommended was Independent Feature Film Production by Gregory Goodell.  Like Simens book, the author assumes the filmmaker is somebody who wishes to make a film using film (rather than digital formats) to create their movie.  Both books did have small sections devoted to digital, but they weren't the main focus of the book.  But whereas Simens' approach towards filmmaking was more like from the point of view of a producer--someone who takes charge and gets the pieces in order and then gets everybody else to do their thing, Goodell's approach is more of that of someone who makes films himself.  Or at the very least likes to micromanage everything.  Simens' book is more big picture thinking.  Yes, it's good to know how everything works together.  It's good to know the basics of what the stuff is.  And he covers that.  But Goodell goes into much more detail and is far more technical.  The appendices included a sample limited partnership contract (because most filmmakers appear to try to find limited partners to finance the film), a sample budget, and a whole slew of resources--many of which are the very same ones that Simens recommended.  Goodell also had copies of various worksheets used in production scattered throughout the book, but then didn't describe how the various sheets were used, and not everything on the sheets is obvious. 

In fact, I had to keep reminding myself what different terms meant at times and double check film glossaries when I wasn't sure.  Some of his explanations are simply beyond me, because I've never seen the equipment talked about, never touched the equipment talked about, and therefore have absolutely no way to picture what the heck he's talking about, much less understand it. 

I think in these cases, hands on learning would probably be best.  Workshops at your local non-profit film center are good.  Here in Portland we have NW Film Center, which offers classes at fairly reasonable rates.  Community colleges offer classes both for credit and non-credit at reasonable rates.  But if you're continually broke like me, knowing someone who knows how to do the stuff s/he's talking about and having them be willing to show me is the best!

I'm the organizer for Stumptown Movie Makers meetup group.  Currently, we have 147 members and our group is adding new members all the time!  Our group likes to help each other make movies. We learn from each other.  So my recommendation to those out there who want to learn how to make a movie (or learn some aspect of filmmaking or sound you don't already know), is to join a nearby meetup group and start hanging out with filmmakers.  Volunteer to help out on their sets and they will be happy to share with you what they have learned.  Much of my knowledge of film making has come to me in this way.  My film degree taught me to write.  Most everything else I've learned has been hands on.

I punched in "film making" and my zip code into the meetup's search parameters and meetup gave me all sorts of choices.  As it turns out, I'm a member of just about every meetup group in the Portland area that involves film making.  Try it for your area: go to

In the absence of a local film center and if you can't any film groups to attach yourself to, there are always wonderful tutorials that you can find on the internet.  Google rocks! 

In fact, I recently discovered a website called Film Specific.  Film Specific talks about film markets and distribution and lots of other things that have to do with selling your film.  Which, of course, is usually the goal of most filmmakers, right?  Most of us would eventually like to get paid something for all of our hard work.  Film Specific has some free resources, but it is also a place that offers workshops to people that you have to pay for.  Before you pay for the workshops, I suggest checking out their free stuff and seeing if you find it helpful enough to pay for the rest.  That's a decision only you can decide. 

There are two more books I have at home on filmmaking overall, one of which is very recently published.  I'm hoping that will cover the digital realm more, since digital has really affected independent production, I believe.  After I read those, I think I'll summarize some of the basics of what I learned.  Then I'll move on to breaking down the three major aspects of filmmaking:  pre-production, production and post-production.  I'm hoping I might get a friend or two write a guest blog on the types of things they do, to, with an eye to enlightening those of us who know diddly.